Analysis of Mark A. Winger’s emergency phone calls

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Mark and Donnah Winger

Mark A. Winger (1962) is a former Springfield, Illinois nuclear power-plant technician, who was arrested on August 23, 2001 and sentenced to life in prison without parole on August 9, 2002 for the murders of his wife, Donnah Brown Winger (1963), and van driver Roger Harrington (1967).

On August 29, 1995 Mark Winger called 911 reporting he had shoot Roger Harrington, not knowing who he was, after finding him bludgeoning his wife with a hammer.

Here some excerpts from Winger’s emergency calls.

FIRST CALL:

911 Operator: 911, what’s your emergency?

Mark Winger: Please, help me. My God, my wife’s not breathing.

We note the word “Please” at the start of his first answer, this is a signal that Winger feels the need to ingratiate himself with the operator.

Note the words “help me”, Winger is not asking for help for his wife but for himself. This is unexpected and we often find these words in the language of the guilty.  

Note “My God”, any reference to Divinity is a signal of deception. Winger invokes “God” to look believable, this is a manipulative behaviour.

“My wife” is an incomplete social introduction. We always note the incomplete social introduction, usually a signal of a poor relationship. During an emergency call the reason for an incomplete social introduction can be the urgency, in this  first answer we note that the incomplete social introduction is in association with three other sensitivity indicators.

911 Operator: Okay, do you need an ambulance?

Mark Winger: I need everything, I need everything.

Note that Winger says to the operator that he is the one who needs “everything” not his wife.

SECOND CALL:

Police Dept: Springfield police.

Mark Winger: Yes, ma’m, help me.

We note the two words “Yes, ma’m” at the start of his answer. This is unexpected politeness. 

Note that Winger is asking for help for himself not for his wife, again.

Police Dept: What’s the problem?

Mark Winger: Uh… uh…  I just shot this man in my house.

Note that Winger doesn’t mention his wife, evidently his wife safety is not his priority.

The word “just” is a dependent word used in comparison. This means that Winger is comparing the fact that he “shot” with another thought.

We note the word “this” that shows closeness to the man he shot. 

Police Dept: Is he still inside your house?

Mark Winger: (inaudible) he beat my wife.

Note that Winger doesn’t answer the question but feels the need to tell the operator the reason why he “shot” the man, preempting a possible question on this topic, this is sensitive.

We note again the incomplete social introduction of his wife. 

Police Dept: Is he in there right now?

Mark Winger: Yes (inaudible) just (inaudible).

We note the dependent word “just”.

Police Dept: Does he have a gun?

Mark Winger: Her brains are everywhere.

We note that for the second time he doesn’t answer a question about the man he shot.

Police Dept: Where’s the man at?

Mark Winger: He is right on the floor.

Police Dept: Is he dead?

Mark Winger: I don’t know, he is making weird sounds.

Police Dept: Sir, sir?

Mark Winger: Please, please (inaudible).

Note that he uses again the word “please” twice to ingratiate himself with the operator. 

Police Dept: Sir, slow down, I can’t understand you, slow down. Is the man still in the house?

Mark Winger: Yes, he is laying there on the floor with a bullet in his head.

“with a bullet in his head” are unnecessary words. 

Police Dept: Did you shoot him?

Mark Winger: Yes, I shot him, he was killing my wife, please, let me… my baby is crying, my baby is crying, I’ve gotta go, I’ll call you right back.

Note that, without being asked, for the second time, he tells the operator the reason why he shot the man. This is sensitive to him. 

Note that “my wife” is still an incomplete social introduction.

Note that he uses again the word “please” to ingratiate himself with the operator.

THIRD CALL:

Mark Winger: Hello.

Police Dept: Mr Winger?

Mark Winger: Yes, yes.

Police Dept: This is the police department, we’ve got officers en route, I need to know what is going on there.

Mark Winger: My wife is dying on the floor.

“My wife” is still an incomplete social introduction. 

Note that Winger doesn’t ask for help for his wife nor he asks for help for himself to give her CPR.

Police Dept: Okay, is she still alive?

Mark Winger: I think so.

Police Dept: Okay, we’ve got an ambulance en route and we’ve got police officers en route. Where is the gun?

Mark Winger: I put it on the table, it’s on the table, it’s on the table, please, God, please, come here.

We note that, due to the repetitions, the “table” appears sensitive to him.

Note that he use again the word “please” twice to ingratiate himself with the operator. 

Note Winger’s reference to the Divinity.

Police Dept: We’ve got people on the way.

Mark Winger: Okay.

Police Dept: Who is this man?

Mark Winger: I… I don’t know who he is.

Note the stuttering “I”, a signal of increase in tension. The question appears to be sensitive to him.

Police Dept: Is he inside your house?

Mark Winger: Yes, he’s laying on the floor. Okay. I’ve got to hold my wife, I’ve gotta get to my wife.

Note that “my wife” is still an incomplete social introduction. 

We note that Winger diverts the topic here, introducing his wife, still not asking for any help for her.

According with the investigation, when paramedics arrived on the scene they found Winger’s wife, Donnah, face down on the floor. He never held her.

Police Dept: Okay, are you Mark Winger?

Mark Winger: Yes, I am. Yes, I am.

Police Dept: Okay, and your wife is Donnah?

Mark Winger: Yes, she is.

Police Dept: When the man came at?

Mark Winger: I… I don’t know, a few minutes ago, please… I ‘ve got to get to my wife, please, just let me get to my wife, I won’t hang up. Okay? Oh God, oh God, oh God, oh God, oh God, oh God.

We note the stuttering “I”, a signal of increase in tension. The question appears to be sensitive to him. We note that the questions that produced the stuttering “I”, where both about “the man” that he shot.

Note that Winger uses again the word “please” to ingratiate himself with the operator and, in association with “I ‘ve got to get to my wife, please, just let me get to my wife”, to divert the topic.  This is the second time that when asked about the man he introduces his wife but doesn’t ask for any help for her. 

“my wife” is still an incomplete social introduction.

At the end of this answer he repeats six times “Oh God”.

Police Dept: Okay, we’ve got officers en route.

Mark Winger: Okay, my door’s open.

Police Dept: Okay.

Mark Winger: Okay.

 ANALYSIS CONCLUSION:

Deception indicated.

During these three phone calls, Winger never asked for help for his wife.

Winger’s priority were:

  1. to ingratiate himself with the operators; 
  2. to get help for himself;
  3. to explain the reason why he shot the man;
  4. to appear believable.

In this case, the incomplete social introduction is a signal of a poor relationship between the two. 

Winger has guilty knowledge of what happened to his wife Donnah.

Ursula Franco, MD and criminologist

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